"My passionate idol activites - Aikatsu! - is about to start!"
Aikatsu is a card collection/rhythm game for Japanese arcades (followed by two 3DS games) produced by Bandai, with an anime adaptation by Sunrise and TMS Entertainmentnote through their Telecom unit, first season only currently airing. It tells the story of a middle school student called Ichigo Hoshimiya who joins Starlight Academy with her best friend Aoi Kiriya to become an Idol Singer. A second season was confirmed for the series and begins airing October 3, 2013. The second season introduces new idols - Seira Otoshiro, Key Saegusa, Sora Kazesawa, and Maria Himesato - whom attend the rival idol school, Dream Academy. The season also features the new Constellation System, the evolution of the Aikatsu! system.
This series contains examples of:
Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Not really a game, more of a competition. In Episode 51 and Episode 52, Dream Academy and Starlight Academy have a face off concert, with Dream Academy's representative being Seira, and Starlight's representative being Aoi. Aoi and Ran overhear that if Aoi were to lose the face off, Orihime would quit being headmistress of the school.
Anime: Episode 42 is one for Shion. Episode 47 is one for Masquerade.
Arcade Game: There's one stage which puts the player on the same stage with Johnny while he supposedly teaches about how to pull off special appeals. He even does the voice overs!
Angelic Beauty: As indicated by the name, the fashion brand Angely Sugar attempts to make the idols who wear their clothes look like angels, which is why all of Ichigo's Premium Dresses have her wearing wings. By Season 2, the wings are less of a unique feature of the Angely Sugar brand, as all Constellation Premium Dresses feature wings.
In general, the animation and look of the 3d sequences seems to constantly improve. Season 2 shows a huge leap from Season 1 with designs much more true to the drawn characters in the series with animation that's much less stiff.
Ascended Extra: Oozora Akari appeared half-way into Season 2, with some focus episodes but is not even shown in most episodes. She's slated to replace Ichigo as the main protagonist of Season 3, along with two other completely new characters.
Ascended Fanboy: Well, fangirl. After Akari became a big fan of Ichigo, she auditioned to enter Starlight Academy, but failed to make the cut. She eventually auditions for a second time during the Idol Caravan after learning that this time, Ichigo, Aoi, and Ran would be judges. She finally makes it in, and in the following episode, there's plans for her to perform alongside Ichigo.
Then there's Key's "Oke-oke-okay!" and Seira's "If you're do, then I'm re. If you're re, then I'm mi." Sora also has "Kurukuru kyawawa".
Character Aged with the Actor: Time passes in the series about a year every half season, putting Ichigo at 13 at the start of the series and about 16 near the middle of season 2. Ichigo's voice actress, Sumire Morohoshi, started when she was 13 years old and is currently 15.
Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: All the main idols have their own color theme which shows up on their profiles on the anime's official website: Ichigo's is pink, Aoi's is blue, Ran's is purple, Otome's is yellow (though she wears orange more often), Yurika's is green (though she is often represented by black in order to differentiate from Sakura), Sakura's is lime, Kaede's is orange and Mizuki's is red, although most of her outfits are fuchsia. This also applies to their idol aura, basic and premium rare performing outfits, but not their training outfits.
Seira's theme color is red. Key's is lime, like Sakura, but she borders a bit more on yellow green. Sora's is indigo, and Maria's is apricot.
Akari's theme color is scarlet, although her Torte Coord is labeled as apricot.
According to cards in the arcade game Shion's official color is basil (a darker green than Sakura) and Hikari has plum (a pinkish purple).
Confusing Multiple Negatives: Yurika, though everyone gets used to it quickly and now just assume she's always saying something in the positive.
Conspicuous CG: The concerts, but it switched to normal animation at times during episode 17 when Ichigo is on the same stage with Mizuki during the latter's concert and episode 25 when Ichigo's dad make it just in time to watch her audition.
Some scenes that don't involve singing/dancing during the concerts also feature CG, but these are much rarer. One of the more obvious examples is in episode 87, when Ichigo, Aoi, and Ran are walking along the outside gate of Starlight Academy.
Continuity Nod: Season 2 does a lot of this in regards to events that happened in Season 1, and manages to work many of these nods into a week's particular storyline.
Cross Over: With Tamagotchi. The Tamagotchi toys get an add-on that feature Aikatsu characters, while Aikatsu's Datacardass game features a Tamagotchi stage. See here and here.
Soleil seems to be an expy of MARs. Both groups are trios, the members have a pink, blue, and purple color scheme, the purple themed members have been idols / Prism Stars long before the other two, and the pink and blue themed members are considerably closer to one another.
The Fashionista: Sora is this. While all idols are supposed to be fashion-conscious, she has a special background concerning fashion and is the first idol ever to actually create a fashion brand on her own - Bohemian Sky, which she named after the Bohemian, Mimi, whom she met when she was a kid.
Foreshadowing: The show does a lot of this in regard to Miya's identity in the first season. clever viewers can actually figure it out from as early as episode 2 that it's Ichigo's mom, as the stage name Miya is taken directly from her last name, Hoshimiya, on top of the similarity in hair and eye colors.
Genki Girl: Ichigo and Otome, again, more so the latter. Key is also this.
The Glomp: Otome to Ichigo when she comes back from America.
Good Luck Charm: Ichigo's rice scoop/paddle. When Ichigo forgets to bring it with her during her time in America, it's shown that the paddle passed through various people at Starlight Academy, who have also treated it in the same manner.
Aoi is shown to carry her first Premium Dress cards with her as a good luck charm, though this may be true for many of the girls.
Graduation For Everyone: In Episode 74, Ichigo, Ran, Aoi, Otome, Yurika, Kaede, and Shion all graduate from Starlight Academy's middle school division and become high school students. Seira, Key, Sora, and Maria are also shown to have graduated from Dre Aca's middle school and entered the high school division.
I Got Bigger: All of the younger characters grow, but Raichi is the most noticeable as mid-Season 2, he's at the age where he's going through puberty. Aoi takes notice of this, as Raichi's nearly as tall as she is compared to 2-3 years ago. The difference can be directly observed in Episode 86.
Noel, being the same age as Raichi, is also noticeably taller in the later half of Season 2 compared to when she was first introduced. In addition to this, she changes her hair style from pigtails to a pulled back look at the top.
Imagine Spot: Raichi has one at the beginning of episode 18 where he imagined himself getting chocolate from Aoi and ends up embarrassed.
Important Haircut: Akari did this as a sign of stop following Ichigo and become herself.
Japanese Honorifics: Otome addresses the others with “-tan” (e.g. Ichigo-tan, Aoi-tan). Sakura, on the other hand, addresses them with “-sama” (e.g. Ichigo-sama, Aoi-sama). Yurika addresses herself with “Yurika-sama”. Raichi addresses Ichigo as "Nee-san", Aoi as "Aoi-nee-san" and Ran as "Ran-san", which earned him a snark from Ran in episode 47.
Large Ham: Johnny and any time the Kitaoji theater is active.
Living Prop: Any idol who attends one of the schools that isn't a main or supporting character seems to exist to just pad out the classrooms in the anime or having an opponent in the arcade game. Many of them have distinctive appearances, talk, and have even been given names but none of them seem to win any auditions.
Meaningful Name: The members of the initial Power Trio all seem to have their theme color somewhere on their name ("Ichigo" = strawberry, commonly associated with the color pink; "Aoi" = blue; and the "Shi" in Ran's surname means "purple"). Mizuki's name means beautiful moon, alluding to her moon theme. The "Kan" in her surname means god, referencing to her status as a top idol.
The "Oto" in Seira's surname Otoshiro means sound, which references her absolute pitch, and her background in classical and rock music. Key's name means musical key, and may also be from "kikoeru" meaning listen. The "Sae" in her surname means to be skillful, possibly referencing her status as Seira's producer, and "Gusa" means grass, alluding to her green color scheme. Sora's name means sky, alluding to her sky thematic. Her surname, "Kazesawa", roughly translates to wind swamp, also also alludes to her sky thematic as well as her color scheme. The "Hime" in Maria's surname means princess, which is fitting for an ojou.
Mikuru's preferred brand, Vivid Kiss, has very swimsuit-like designs. The "Natsu" in her surnmae means summer.
Meganekko: Yurika when she is not acting like a vampire, Aoi when she teaches the juniors and Key when she appear as a producer.
The Mentor: Mizuki to all the girls, but mostly to Ichigo.
The Merch: They range from a clothing line, replicas of items shown in the anime and even foods.
Merchandise-Driven: The anime exists to sell Aikatsu cards and by extension, promoting the arcade game of the same name. As of August 2014, there are twelveExpansion Packs. And there are also other merchandise such as CD singles, these come bundled with Aikatsu cards. Gotta Catch Them All!
Officially Shortened Title: A variation: Aikatsu is a shortening of Aidoru Katsudou, yet the phrase appeared as a subtitle for the series' logo.
Out of Focus: Kaede, to the point where she never got a chance to wear her Basic Stage Coord outfit in Season 1 and her Brand/Constellation Coord got given to Saegusa Kii in Season 2. With the introduction of four new idols in Season 2, her screentime is even shorter than it was in Season 1, often limited to being in a single quick scene per episode, if she actually does appear.
Naoto, the groundskeeper, also received much less attention in Season 2, despite being Tiara's younger brother. This is possibly caused by the disbanding of Rey, the band which the singer provides his singing voice, on 31st August 2013.
Power Trio: From Episode 33 to 35, Mizuki holds various auditions to determine two partners to form her own idol unit, Tristar. In Episode 34, Mizuki chooses the newly arrived Kaede to be her first partner, and in Episode 35, chooses Ran is the final member.
Mizuki eventually removes Ran from Tristar, seeing how distressed she is being apart from Ichigo and Aoi. Ran eventually reunites with Ichigo and Aoi, becoming their own unit, Soleil. Because of this, Mizuki spends her time in Episode 38 searching for Tristar's new member, who is eventually revealed to be Yurika.
After the formation of Tristar and Soleil, Otome impulsively starts her own unit with Sakura and Shion, known as Powapowa Puririn. Their status as a Power Trio is mentioned in season two, where they are referred to as the most popular idol unit after Soleil and Tristar disband.
In season two, Seira, Key, and Sora seem to form a Power Trio against their Starlight Rivals.
for what was shown for Season 3, Sumire and Hinaki will form this with Akari.
Press X to Not Die: Comes in three ways in determining success of special appeals: hitting a sequence of buttons in a small amount of time, when the shrinking circle marks is exactly on the buttons shown on the screen or coins falls exactly on the designated area.
Rainbow Pimp Gear: This can happen if attempts to make a good coord (a working combination of clothes of different types) fail or players simply use cards with higher score values without regards of compatibility. Even the good coords themselves are not◊ exempt from this.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: On a scale from blue to red: Mizuki, Ran, Yurika, Aoi, Sakura, Kaede, Ichigo, and Otome.
Refusal of the Call: In Episode 41, Shion announces that, in order to focus on her acting career, she will not be joining STAR☆ANIS, a temporary idol unit composed of Soleil, Tristar, and Powapowa Puririn.
Relationship Values: Maxing it out for a character allows the player to use her in the game unless the player has to compete against her.
The Reveal: It's very subtle, but the flashback and final scene on episode 31 reveals that Ringo is Miya, the other half of Masquerade, something which is hinted earlier in episode 17. However, Ichigo only learned this at the end of episode 47. It's revealed in episode 63 that Mizuki left Starlight as she was inspired by Ichigo to follow the path to become a producer and is now at Dream Academy, not as a student, but as an advisor. This would explain why as seen in episode 52, the training regime of Dream Academy was so similar to how Ichigo and the others trained in season one.
The Rival: Hikari is this for Ran, at least when it comes to the sensational student audition. Seira is this for Ichigo.
There's also Aoi and Akane. Ironically, Aoi's name means blue and Akane's name means madder red.
Similar Squad: Seira, Kii, Sora, and Maria from Dream Academy are very similar to Ichigo, Aoi, Ran, and Otome respectively. While their personalities differ quite a bit, their specific roles within the group are quite similar. The similarities are lampshaded in Season 2 during the Partner's Cup. More specifically:
Ichigo and Seira act as the leaders and top idols of their respective schools in terms of popularity ranking.
Aoi and Kii are both intelligent and act as the leader's best friend and supporter/fan.
Ran and Sora both specialize in fashion, on top of having similar hair length and the same singer.
Otome and Maria can be a bit of a stretch, as Otome isn't as integrated into the Power Trio of Ichigo, Aoi, and Ran as Maria is to the other Dream Academy girls. Nevertheless, they share the same basic coord outfit color, and act as the cutest members of their respective groups.
Surprisingly Good English: Kaede speaks with a lot of English thanks to being from America, but she's noticeably lacking in Engrish.
Theme Naming: The Hoshimiya girls have a fruits thematic to their name. Ichigo's name means strawberry, and her mother Ringo's name means apple.
Ichigo's younger brother, Raichi, also follows this theme, his name being based on the Lychee fruit. Made apparent in Season 2 when he orders a lychee parfait.
The Otoshiro girls have a "holy" thematic to their given names. Seira's name itself means "Holy", while her younger sister's, Noel, is another name for Christmas, which is often referred to as the holy night. Noel is even born on December 25th!
Trademark Favorite Food: Ichigo has seaweed bento, as she mentions them multiple times in season one. Ichigo also has a particular fondness for parfaits, especially strawberry parfaits, and after the Starlight Queen Cup, all her friends (sans Kaede, she gives Ichigo another treat) buy her parfaits. Otome's favorite food is popcorn, to the point where she actually made a song about popcorn to be Powapowa Puririn's debut song. Ironically, Yurika's favorite food is garlic ramen, despite her vampire character.
Western Zodiac: The primary focus of the second season as well as the 2014 update to the arcade game. Each fashion brand is assigned a certain constellation that they base their clothes on. Although probably not by coincidence, these constellations correspond to the star signs of the idols themselves, even when some brands are used by more than one girl.
The Worf Effect: Ichigo. This is the girl who managed to beat out Aoi, Ran, and the others to the final stage of the Starlight Queen Cup, only losing to Mizuki by a small margin. In season two, she gets beat by Seira, who is still new to being an idol.
Sort of justified, as during their face-off concert Seira was wearing a Premium Dress, and Ichigo was wearing a Swick Rock dress rather than her usual Angely Sugar, which she looks best in.
There's also the fact that it seems Ichigo hadn't actually been doing any idol activities during her time in America, or at least hadn't been doing idol activities for the majority of the year, so she may have gotten a little rusty.
Two-Teacher School: Johnny and Orihime are the most commonly seen faculty in Starlight Academy. Asakura Miwa, commonly seen giving dancing instructions, and the unnamed lunchlady are the only other faculty who have gotten more than a few lines of dialogue past the first few episodes.
Dream Academy has yet to show any faculty outside of the chairwoman, Tiara Yumesaki.